By cruise ship in Glacier Bay National Park
One of the most impressive experiences on an Alaska cruise is the Inside Passage as well as a ride in the Glacier Bay. The more than 13.000 square kilometers UNESCO World Heritage Site Glacier Bay National Park is the highlight of the Inside Passage and one of the best protected natural areas on earth. In the world heritage site to the west of Juneau and Skagway, visitors see pure nature: rocks, glacial streams, temperate rainforests, fjords and, with a bit of luck, whales and other sea creatures.
Glacier Bay - Early in the morning
The US National Park Service informs the passengers of the cruise ships
The US National Park Service prepares the cruise ship passengers for the national park using a folding plan as follows:
“And so we reach Glacier Bay. The land born again; a world brought back to life, living proof of resilience. ... Glacier Bay is so many things in one: home, nature laboratory, wilderness and national park, biosphere reserve of the United Nations and world heritage site. ... 250 years ago there was only a glacier where there is a bay today. A massive river of ice some 100 miles long and thousands of feet thick. Today the glacial river has retreated far to the north. Less than a dozen sea glaciers remain. ... These rivers of ice are witnesses to change. You invite us to relax ... "
Glacier Bay rocky landscape
Access to Glacier Bay is limited to cruise ships
During Alaska's cruise season, which runs from May to September of the year, up to five ships a day call at the few destinations of the northernmost US state. In Juneau, the small town of Skagway and the other sparsely populated stations, this high volume of traffic may affect locals and day visitors. As for Glacier Bay, access to the bay is regulated. It is said that only two ships a day are allowed to enter the natural area accompanied by rangers from the park administration.
Glacier Bay - In the distance the Wilderness Adventurer
The rangers reside on land at the Glacier Bay Lodge Visitor Center at Point Gustavus near Icy Strait. The location can only be reached by ship or by plane via Gustavus Airport. The guards accompany the cruise ships throughout the day on the journey through the Sitakaday Narrows and the inlet of Glacier Bay. A "normal" day with the rangers is announced on board a ship as follows.
During the more than 60 mile and several hours drive to the Johns Hopkins Glacier the rangers are available to the ship's guests with information, lectures and information material. If you are lucky, you will experience Glacier Bay on a clear, sunny day. However, this is not always the case. In less favorable cases, the traveler only hears the monotonous sound of the ship's horn every two minutes.
Glacier Bay - rocks and water as far as the eye can see
Glacier Bay National Park's habitat is home to bears, moose, mountain goats, wolverines, and wolves. Sea otters, sea lions and whales are at home in the coastal waters. Good luck to those crusaders who get to see the marine life in particular during the day tour. Those who are not favored by such luck will be satisfied with the magnificent rocky landscape of the bay. The passengers get breathtaking impressions when the captains turn their ships around for about an hour in front of the monumental backdrop of one of the glaciers. We saw the spectacle in front of Johns Hopkins Glacier.
Johns Hopkins Glacier
Photos Glacier Bay
Glacier Bay is the part of an Alaska cruise that will stay in the memory of the passengers forever.
Update April 2021